Cedarsong™ Nature School Staff

erin_faceErin Kenny, Cedarsong Nature School co-founder and Director:  Erin has been designing programs to connect children with nature for over twenty years. Erin has a B.A. in environmental education and a J.D. in environmental law.  In 2006, Erin developed Cedarsong Preschool, a nature-based preschool, and was fascinated by how well the children retained information when they had hands on experiences. In 2007 Erin formed the non-profit Cedarsong Nature School and, with the help of Robin Rogers, started the first U.S. Forest Kindergarten, an entirely-outdoor preschool that was originally based on the German waldkindergarten model. Erin’s extensive experience and her resulting expertise inspired her to create Cedarsong’s Forest Kindergarten Teacher Training and Certification Program to assist others in their dream of pursuing this exciting and unique early childhood education model. Erin also frequently shares her expertise by speaking at conferences and universities about the Forest Kindergarten model and the benefits of her teaching methodology known as The Cedarsong Way. Erin has attended international Study Trips in the Netherlands, Germany, and Scotland to further her own learning and has been the keynote speaker at international conferences in Canada, S. Korea and Australia. Erin wrote the book “Forest Kindergartens: The Cedarsong Way” and wrote a chapter in David Sobel’s new book “Nature Pre-schools and Forest Kindergartens”. Erin is a member of the American Forest Kindergarten Association, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the National Science Teacher’s Association (NSTA), The World Forum Foundation’s Nature Action Collaborative for Children, and the National Wildlife Federation’s ‘Be Out There’ campaign. Erin is passionate about her subject matter and her infectious enthusiasm makes her an extremely likeable and effective teacher. Learn more about Erin Kenny.

Karen Olsen, Principal/Lead Teacher and Teacher Training Co-Leader: Karen has been a Cedarsong teacher for seven years and has loved the growth and bonding times with her young forest explorers. Karen has a BA and an MA in ESL from Antioch University, Seattle. As far back as Karen can remember, she always loved spending time outdoors. As a child, Karen would go on “nature walks,” where she would collect interesting things, like walnuts, leaves, rocks and some insects in a little pail. During her school days, Karen frequently did her homework outside and when she got her driver’s license, she loved finding different parks and nature preserves to go for hikes and camping. Eventually, she realized that these times actually had a profound impact on the way she viewed life. Karen finds it can be very spiritual to spend some time removed from anything human-made. In her spare time, she coaches the Vashon High School Girls Soccer Team.When Karen is not playing in the forest, she enjoys time with her family and friends, photography, cooking vegan dishes, board games, playing with her dogs and reading good books. Karen co-leads the Forest Kindergarten Teacher Training Program and is a proud member of the American Forest Kindergarten Association.

Gia Reyna, Forest Kindergarten Teacher: Gia graduated with honors from Pepperdine University and has her B.A. in Sociology. Gia also completed her Foundation Year of Waldorf Teacher Training with early childhood emphasis and is midway through a Masters in Education. Gia believes strongly in the forest kindergarten model seeing personally how it benefited her daughter. Gia discovered the wonders of Cedarsong in 2009 when she enrolled her three-year-old in the forest kindergarten class. On the first day of school, she was tentative about dropping off her small child in the middle of the woods and driving away, but when she returned to find her little one with flushed, smiling cheeks and gasping at “fairies” (tiny white moths), Gia relaxed. She quickly became a believer in outdoor education when, a few days later, they drove past roadkill and her daughter asked, “If a doctor can’t fix that animal, then will it at least decompose like the leaves in the forest?”  Gia witnessed first-hand that a child can acquire advanced learning skills by simply having consistent exposure to the outdoors and that social and emotional intelligence are immensely fostered through a connection to the natural world. Gia is a proud member of the American Forest Kindergarten Association.

Nicole Corbo, Forest Kindergarten Teacher: Nicole is an enthusiastic teacher and has spent over twenty years working with children. She has a BA in English literature, with a minor focus in adolescent education, and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Washington, where she studied creative writing. Her diverse teaching experiences with young students range from classroom time with preschool and Kindergarten aged children to nature-based experiential learning with preschool up to high school aged youth. Prior to graduate school, Nicole spent nearly 14 years as a river guide in Grand Canyon and Idaho so she is well versed in wilderness medicine. She is also a writer and storyteller. Nicole has a tremendous passion for sharing the wonders of the natural world, plus she really likes playing outside.